O.C. Supervisor Michelle Steel to Challenge Rep. Harley Rouda in 2020 Election

From left: Harley Rouda speaks at a campaign event in Fullerton on Oct. 4, 2018, and Michelle Steel is seen in her official portrait for the Orange County Board of Supervisors. (Credit: Mario Tama / Getty Images)

From left: Harley Rouda speaks at a campaign event in Fullerton on Oct. 4, 2018, and Michelle Steel is seen in her official portrait for the Orange County Board of Supervisors. (Credit: Mario Tama / Getty Images)

Another tough U.S. House race is shaping up in Southern California.

Orange County Supervisor Michelle Steel announced Thursday that she’s challenging first-term Rep. Harley Rouda, whose victory in the coastal 48th District last year helped Democrats retake control of the House.

“Washington, D.C. has continuously failed us, and now more than ever people believe the political system is broken,” Steel said in a statement. “I’m running to bring common-sense leadership to Congress and hold our leaders accountable so that we can get our country back on track.”

Orange County, southeast of Los Angeles, was once a nationally known Republican stronghold. But Democrats seized four U.S. House seats all or partly in the county in 2018, placing a vast stretch of the L.A. metropolitan area under Democratic control in the House.

Steel is the latest candidate to line up in a Republican effort to regain that lost ground in 2020.

In the 2018 election, Rouda toppled long-serving Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher in the GOP-leaning district anchored in Huntington Beach. Rouda’s campaign said in a statement that he was elected because the district’s voters wanted change.

Republicans hold an 8-point registration edge in the district, but President Donald Trump remains unpopular in the heavily Democratic state. Michelle Steel, who is married to Republican National Committeeman Shawn Steel, did not mention the president in her announcement.

In the neighboring 39th District, Republican Young Kim has announced her candidacy and is hoping to set up a rematch with Democrat Gil Cisneros, who defeated her in 2018.

Last month, Orange County prosecutor Ray Gennawey, a Republican, announced his campaign in the county’s 45th District, where Democrat Katie Porter defeated Republican Rep. Mimi Walters last year.

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